Gainey praises governor’s commitment to opioid crisis, calls for legislative action on additional bills

HARRISBURG, Sept. 28 – State Rep. Ed Gainey, co-chairman of the bipartisan, legislative Pennsylvania Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Caucus (PA-HOPE), issued the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s address to a joint session of the General Assembly:

“I commend Governor Wolf for his unwavering commitment to fighting the opioid and prescription-drug health crisis that is having a devastating impact on families across Pennsylvania. As lawmakers and public servants, we cannot allow it to continue when 10 people are dying from this every day in our state.

“The House and the Senate must take action in the coming weeks to get bills to the governor’s desk to help the many people and others like them, who have told us their emotional stories during public hearings this year. We must do everything possible to move people from addiction to recovery.”

Gainey, D-Allegheny, has introduced a legislative package aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic, including the following:

House Bill 2333, which would require school districts, including charter schools, to expand their mandatory instructions in alcohol, chemical and tobacco abuse to include specific instruction on the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and controlled substances. School districts would collaborate with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to develop the curriculum.

House Bill 2334, which would require practitioners to query the ABC-MAP system (prescription monitoring system) before prescribing, administering or dispensing an extended-release, long-acting opioid analgesic in a non-abuse deterrent form, to determine if any unusual prescribing pattern exists for the patient and note the reasons for the prescription in the patient’s medical records.

House Bill 2335, which would direct the state Department of Health to establish a voluntary non-opioid directive form. The form could be used by a patient to indicate to all prescribers, practitioners and health care facilities that the named patient has opted not to be administered an opioid drug or offered a prescription for an opioid drug, which does not have abuse-deterrent properties.

House Bill 2336, which would require practitioners to query the ABC-MAP system (prescription monitoring system) before prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance listed on any schedule of control substances, to determine if any unusual prescribing pattern exists for the patient and note the reasons for the prescription in the patient’s medical records, if the controlled substance intended to be prescribed, administered or dispensed is for outpatient use, and is an opiate or contains an opiate or opiate-like compound that has a potential for abuse, psychological or physical dependence, and which poses a heightened risk to public health.

Another bill Gainey has yet to introduce would prohibit the issuance of prescriptions for extended-release, long-acting opioid analgesics in a non-abuse deterrent form for outpatient use, unless an opioid analgesic in an abuse deterrent form or another drug or substance is not available as a substitute for treatment.